By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said President Duterte upheld the interests of the Philippines during his participation at the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related summits, and the 26th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM).
Duterte just returned to Davao City Sunday evening after his almost week-long trip to Singapore for the ASEAN Summit, and then to Papua New Guinea for the AELM, which the Philippines last hosted in 2017 and in 2015, respectively.
In a statement Monday morning, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo detailed Duterte’s attendance to the said meetings.
“Throughout the ASEAN Summit and Related Summits and the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, President Duterte continued to advance Philippine national interests and prioritized upholding and promoting the Philippines key positions,” he said.
During the three-day ASEAN Summit in Singapore, Panelo said the President, together with his fellow Southeast Asian leaders, underscored the importance of ASEAN centrality and community building in the emerging regional architecture.
“He emphasized the need to sustain ASEAN efforts toward building a resilient and innovative region while underscoring the need for developing relations with dialogue partners based on mutual respect for sovereignty,” Panelo said.
According to the Palace official, with the Philippines being coordinator for the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, Duterte reaffirmed ASEAN and China’s shared commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
“While noting the steady progress in the negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), President Duterte called on all parties to work together for the early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC,” Panelo said.
Panelo said that Duterte also reaffirmed the need to maintain and promote peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea and stressed the need to exercise self-restraint and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation.
The President also asserted that aggressive moves by nations can worsen the situation with damage that could be exponential. The President urged stakeholders to desist from adventurism in the South China Sea.
“Throughout the ASEAN Summits, the Philippines clearly articulated its principled position on the need for a rules-based order in the region while underscoring the imperative for security and stability as necessary conditions for sustained growth and development,” Panelo said.
According to Panelo, Duterte also reaffirmed the importance of and contributions of positive engagements between ASEAN and Dialogue Partners, including India, Japan the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States. However, Duterte only attended the summits with Japan, China, and Russia.
Panelo also noted Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. During both meetings, Duterte reaffirmed the country’s commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations with Singapore and Japan.
He added that Duterte also had several pull-aside discussions with ASEAN Leaders and ASEAN Dialogue Partners and used the opportunity to renew friendly and cooperative ties. Panelo, however, did not divulge more specific details about these discussions.
At the AELM, Panelo said Duterte discussed with the APEC Business Advisory Council the need to trade freely, fairly and openly, to spur economic activities and for transfer technology and invest in capacity building.
“Throughout his discussions, the President emphasized that security, stability and peace and order are preconditions for the growth envisioned by APEC,” he said.
In the Economic Leaders’ Meetings, Panelo said that Duterte championed micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), calling them the backbone of many economies.
“While noting that the digital platform offered opportunities for growth in the global economy, the President drew attention to the wide digital divide that – if left unaddressed – could offload MSMEs in developing nations from the becoming active players,” he said.
Panelo also noted that Duterte joined other Economic Leaders in emphasizing the need for greater cooperation to further capacitate MSMEs and educate entrepreneurs in order to make them active players and contributors in the global supply and market chain.
The President likewise reaffirmed the importance of a rules-based multilateral trading system so that shared and sustainable progress and prosperity as envisioned by APEC could be achieved.
“He cautioned against protectionist sentiments and urged economies to treat each other rightly as partners rather than competitors,” Panelo said.
Duterte also met with the Filipino community in Port Moresby, where he thanked them for their contributions to nation building. The President also urged them to continue being the best representatives of the Filipino nation.